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Preventing grasscloth, wallpaper and hardwood floor “tan lines”?

grasscloth fadingSeveral years ago, I had grasscloth installed in my living room and adjacent dining room. As you can sort of see here, we have colonial-style trim on the bottom of the wall, going all the way around the open concept 45′ x 15′ space — yes, it’s big. We wanted to add a bit more mid mod vibe, but keep it subtle considering the broad expanse, so we landed on the grasscloth. Several years have passed… and this weekend, I was hanging some recently acquired art on this wall. The bullfighter painting needed to be raised up a few inches to accommodate the new arrangement and — peek a boo — your tan lines are showing!

I have the same fading issue with my area rugs on the wood floors in this space and even on the cork floors in the bedrooms. The space under the rugs, which have been in place for a decade, are lighter than the space around. Yes, they are *sort of* like tan lines — caused by the sun. I am thinking these are the famous UV, or ultraviolet, rays that are known to cause fading on upholstery and to sun-rot draperies.

I am not sure exactly how to solve the issue. My grasscloth was not especially expensive. I bought it from Seabrook. Because I have fading on floors (in the dark bedrooms, too), I’m gonna *suggest* that the quality of the grasscloth is not an issue. Do they put UV coatings on wallpaper and grasscloth?? I do not know.

Meanwhile, I could get some kind of clear liner for the glass on my windows, I guess? That sounds icky. Or, I could get solar shades that you can see out of but stop the rays? That sounds expensive — my windows are huge. I am not going to close the drapes — we really want the sunlight, badly enough to wreck the grasscloth, I think. Sheers? Would they block UV? Maybe the “soft filtered” light they provide would be acceptable.

Does anybody have experience and/or expert advice on this?

Be forewarned: Position your artwork carefully, you’re going to get tan lines!

  1. Kristy Low says:

    I’d love to hear if there was an update on the status of the tan lines! I just bought a house that has grasscloth in their two main rooms and hallway. I had thought maybe it was previously owned by a smoker but am a bit relieved that it’s from the sun. But I’m looking for a solution to cover the tan lines because I’d hate to be restricted to hanging my art where the previous owner hung theirs. Maybe a light wood stain??

  2. Stephen C. says:

    I lived in a steel and glass house for more than 15 years and can attest to the powerful damage those UV rays do. Other than my Sunbrella fabrics, the sun faded everything. My Eames aluminum group lounger went from red to pink to barely any color at all. There was even fade on the laminate. There was UV film on the skylights and while this seemed to help, it did not eliminate the fade. Silk bedspreads faded noticeably in less than a year. The film did cut down on heat, but was reflective, which gave an annoying mirror quality to the glass. In addition, the film failed over time, and began to separate from the glass. It was a bit of work for the film guys to remove and put new film on. Perhaps that is why there were bubbles the second time. One last issue to note about the UV film is that sheets come very large but if you have big picture windows, they may still have to cut two pieces together, which will leave a big seam.

    I can’t speak to the new glass which has sandwiched layer of UV film inside–my glass guy loves it but it was not workable in my house. The only real solution is to move those pictures around.

  3. Mimi says:

    People used to “draw the drapes” during the day to avoid this. Apart from special coating on the windows, that’s really all that can be done! Or get fade resistant materials.

  4. nancy says:

    Ah, the beauty and heartbreak of natural surfaces! I was a rep for manufacturers of commercial finishes including wallcoverings (grasscloths, cottons, silks, etc) and never knew of any topical UV treatment. Teflon, yes. UV, no. I retired from the industry a couple years ago and doubt that has changed.

    In my own home, I installed a clear solar film from Home Depot on french doors to protect adjacent upholstery fabric….easy and effective though I don’t know how I’d feel about doing a lot of windows. I guess I’d call in the pros.

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